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LAWAL DAURA - CUSTODY

Lawal Daura: The inside story

• From police cell to DSS custody

• Faces EFCC probe over alleged fraud

• His kinsmen speak as Col Umar calls for probe

Chika Abanobi, Willy Eya, Tunde Thomas, Lagos and Agaju Madugba, Katsina

Lawal Musa Daura, Director General of Department of State Security (DSS), sacked by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, allegedly, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari who is holidaying in London, and detained, on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, has been moved to DSS detention facility located in Gwarimpa, Abuja, Saturday Sun can authoritatively report. This followed his temporary release, on Thursday, by the police.

READ ALSO: Osinbajo sacks Lawal Daura following Buhari’s nod

After being dismissed following his summon to the Presidency, he was arrested by the police and detained at a Force Headquarters facility in Garki Area 11. There, he suddenly took ill as a result of the trauma he suffered following his ignominious fall from power. His blood pressure was said to have shot up. As result, they promptly sent for his drugs from his office at DSS headquarters and his home. Sources say he is hypertensive and undergoing some treatments.

Saturday Sun investigation shows that his initial statement to the high ranking, senior police officers assigned to interrogate him, shortly after his detention, is that he acted based on instruction from some principal officers in the Presidency. They included a retired Army General who is a Minister and a principal aide to the president. This aspect was however missing in the interim report summited to VP Osinbajo by the police.

But following his release by the police on Thursday, he was taken into what has been described in security circles as “protective custody” by the DSS. Investigation shows that his movement to a DSS detention apartment at Gwarimpa area of Abuja was done in order to enable his family who lives in Gwarimpa, not too far from the facility, to have access to him at any chosen time. But that has not stopped Nigerians from calling for his head.

“Without a doubt, the summary dismissal, last week, of Alhaji Lawal Daura, Director-General, Department, State Security, came as a big surprise to many people. It seemed to contradict the world order!,” Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (Rtd), observed in a press statement yesterday.

“In the last three years, Lawal Daura had marched from one audacious act of impunity to another; had rudely defied the President, had routinely ignored court orders and seemed all but successful in carving out, for himself, a government within a government in Nigeria. There was hardly any observer of the turbulent Nigerian political scene over the last several years who still believed that Lawal Daura was subject to any laws not to speak of official code of behaviour.

“Given all the distress created by the actions of Lawal Daura and those caused through his refusal to act, the decision to sack him did not come a moment too soon. And yet, in the interest of our democracy, in order to guard against unexpected threats and conspiracies, the action taken by the acting President must not stop halfway. The government should seek to discover the motives as well as the explanation for some of those crazy maneuvers, many of which simply beggars belief.

The questions should include the following:

(1) Where and in what condition are all the assets handed over to Lawal Daura by the immediate past D-G, SS, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong?

READ ALSO: EFCC arrests, frees ex-DSS boss, Ekpeyong, unfreezes Benue govt accounts

(2) What are the reasons why Lawal Daura deployed SS operatives and prevented EFCC personnel from searching the residences of former D-G, SS, Mr Ekpeyong and former D-G, NIA, Mr Oke?

(3) What is the explanation for the raid on the farm belonging to Ibrahim Magu, Chairman, EFCC, which led to loss of live?

(4) Was it not true that Lawal Daura moved to seize and appropriate over forty three million US dollar NIA funds if he was not prevented from doing so by the National Security Adviser?

(5) Why did Lawal Daura continuously and in blatant defiance of the President send false reports to the Nigerian Senate that frustrated the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as substantive Chairman of the EFCC?

(6) Why did he continue to ignore court orders allowing several people detained by him to be released on bail?

His rise to power

Born in Daura, Katsina State on August 5, 1953, Daura retired from the DSS in 2013, having reached the statutory retirement age of 60. But on July 2, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him to head the organisation after his predecessor, Ita Ekpeyong was removed under controversial circumstances. Before his sack, Daura was arguably one of the most powerful persons in Nigeria and was alleged to be a prominent member of the cabal in President Buhari’s government.

After he emerged as the new boss of the security organisation, there were concerns of nepotism as many felt that the President could have appointed a new Director General from among the crop of highly qualified officers of the DSS. The sixth Director General of the security arm, one of the three security agencies created out of the defunct National Security Organisation in 1986, he began his career in 1982 and rose through the ranks to the position of director.

In 2003, he was appointed, Deputy Director, Presidential Communication, Command and Control Centre at the Presidential Villa, a position he held till 2007. He also served as director at various times in many states of the Federation including Kano, Sokoto, Edo, Lagos, Osun and Imo. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, from 1977 – 1980 and various professional courses in institutions at home and abroad, including the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS) Kuru.

His many sins

Saturday Sun investigations revealed that while Daura basked in the influence and power he wielded while in office, some of the actions he took riled many. He was reported to have stepped on some powerful toes. Not only that, some of the actions he took were said to have embarrassed the Federal Government.

Some of these include the invasion of Akwa-Ibom state government house on September 3, 2015, by DSS operatives. The incident, which instantly put Daura in the limelight was roundly condemned. DSS operatives numbering 48 ransacked the Government House without a search warrant. It was an illegal exercise, and many prominent Nigerians including the state governor, Emmanuel Udom, condemned the action.

Irked by what happened, Udom was reported to have put a call across to President Buhari to express his displeasure. But his efforts and the ensuing public outcry didn’t deter Daura. Rather he got DSS into more controversies. About a year after, his operatives raided the homes of some judges in Abuja and Port Harcourt at night. Nigerians cried foul over the illegal raids, which were carried out without search warrants. But as usual, Daura had no apology to offer.

Speaking through one of DSS officers while trying to justify the raids on the judges’ houses, Daura was reported to have claimed that the crackdown was aimed at instilling discipline, and sanity in the judiciary. But investigations later revealed that the judges were targeted as a retaliatory measure over what DSS perceived as the judges unsavoury rulings and harsh stance against the security service.

For instance, one of the judges, Mr. Nnamdi Dimgba, whose brother was mishandled during the DSS raid had on July 22, 2016 tongue-lashed the organisation for failing to bring Air Commodore Umar Mohammed who was in its custody to court for hearing.

Also Justice Muazu Pindiga, former Chairman of the Rivers State Gubernatorial Petitions Tribunal, was arrested by DSS on allegations of bribery and corruption. The judge was however said to be a victim of witch-hunt by the security outfit as he was reported to have rebuffed overtures to dangle justice in a predetermined outcome.

The non-confirmation of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by the Senate also had Daura’s hand in it. He allegedly wrote a damning report that swayed the Senate against clearing the appointment of Magu.

In March 2016, he ordered the invasion of Ekiti State House of Assembly by DSS operatives. This illegal action, which drew public uproar prompted the House of Representatives to summon Daura to appear before it to state reasons for the deed. In August, 2015 the Senate also invited him to clarify the role of DSS in a matter having to do with the Rivers State Election Tribunal in which the operatives detained Gesila Khan, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s State Resident Electoral Commissioner, over the 2015 general election.

He was also reported to have influenced Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation to meet with Abdulrasheed Maina, a man who had earlier been declared wanted by the Police over pension fund scam. Daura’s alleged arranged meeting with Malami led to the latter’s secret return to the civil service.

His other sins include alleged disrespect of court orders on ex-National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, and the popular Islamic cleric Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. He was also reported to be fond of using security reasons to determine who to see or not to see or pray with President Buhari. His frosty relationship and alleged refusal to take orders from the National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Babagana Monguno, was also said to be one of his undoing.

It is not only the National Security Adviser that Daura disrespects, Saturday Sun learnt, it is a common knowledge within the Presidency that he disagreed with heads of other security agencies to the extent that it was difficult to know who he officially reports to. He was said to be so power-drunk to the extent of even overruling President Buhari and Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on some issues.

A typical example was $43.45 million recovered at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos. When the President appointed Prof. Osinbajo to head the probe panel, Daura was said to have openly disagreed with some recommendations in the committee’s report and even later raised a curious memo citing why security funds cannot be probed.

The media also got a raw deal in Daura’s hand.when Tony Ezimakor, the Abuja Bureau Chief of Daily Independent who wrote an investigative feature story on the release of the abducted Dapchi girls in Yobe State last year was arrested on the orders of Daura for revealing details the DSS found uncomfortable.

The accreditation of The Punch Aso Rock correspondent, Olalekan Adetayo, withdrawn over a year ago has also not been restored because of security reasons cited by Daura in spite of intervention by some media aides of President Buhari. Boasting about the powers he wields, Daura was once reported to have said at a gathering of media editors that if he wants to cause crisis in Nigeria, he can do so within five minutes.

His Fall

On Tuesday, August 7, he was sacked on the orders of Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, for superintending the unauthorised cordoning off of the National Assembly by hooded DSS operatives. On that day, scores of legislators and hundreds of legislative staff were locked out of the National Assembly complex by the operatives. The move was linked to some intrigues to forcibly remove key presiding officers of the Senate, including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.

READ ALSO: Saraki as Buhari’s Achilles’ heel

The development did not go down well with the Acting President who was said to have gotten approval of President Buhari to sack Daura. He (Osinbajo) later ordered him arrested and placed under house arrest until further notice.

Fresh troubles for the spymaster

Aside his detention, Saturday Sun learnt from a highly placed source that his biggest headache could be the government plan to investigate the extent of his management of the N17 billion said to have been allocated to the security organisation in the last days of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The arrest by EFCC, of Ekpeyong, the former DSS boss, opens another front in the investigation. It was part of the discovery by the arms probe set up by the present administration.

Saturday Sun also learnt that the effort to investigate the subterfuge, connivance and dirty deals involving millions of Euros allegedly linked to the head of a Nigerian security outfit which was involved in the payment of ransom to Boko Haram insurgents for the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State could further open a can of worms in the Daura saga.

As a result, a group, Campaign Against Corruption and Bad Governance (CACOBAG) had petitioned the EFCC to unravel the mystery behind the money said to have been traced to two bank accounts at Liechtenstein bearing the name AUWALU KALLAMU. Auwalu and Kallamu, it was learnt, are the Arabic synonyms of Nigerian names. Saturday Sun had earlier published that based on a foreign intelligence, the EFCC may soon begin investigation into the true owner of GMBH bank account no.32570021 with Lamda private bank, Liechtenstein under the pseudonym, Auwalu Kallamu as the sole signatory.

Daura’s kinsmen speak: ‘Let’s wait and see’

Hold your peace! Let’s wait and see. Those are the pieces of advice that Daura’s kinsmen and friends would want Nigerians to heed on the matter of his dismissal, arrest, detention and alleged investigation into his past activities. In a chat with Saturday Sun, Senator Abba Ali, the Second Republic member of the National Assembly, that represented Katsina/Dutsinma Senatorial district under the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) says that what happened is a mistake any of us could have made including those who are calling for his head. “I met Lawal Daura about two to three weeks ago and my impression is that he is a dedicated person but we are all human beings and we are bound to make mistakes,” he said. “I believe he made a mistake but it should serve as a lesson to others knowing that if you make a mistake, you may not be spared.”

Ali, a classmate of Buhari and with whom they were pioneer students at Katsina Middle School, way back in 1953, however, defended the President’s directive to Osinbajo to sack Daura. “What happened is unfortunate because, one thing I know is that Buhari never spares anybody if that person does anything wrong,” he noted. “I am sure the Federal Government has every reason to justify the action it took. The President actually trusted Lawal Daura but it is unfortunate that it has happened. What we hope is that this kind of thing should not happen again in the future. I am sure government had reasons to take the action as quickly as possible. If they did not have anything against him, government would not have acted the way it did.”

Malam Adna Nahabu, a Daura resident and close ally of the sacked DG counseled patience and caution for gloating Nigerians. “For now, any comment may tend to preempt the ongoing investigations into the matter,” he warned. “I think we should wait for the outcome of the investigations. I know Lawal Daura very well and we meet very often. From my interactions with him, I know him to be a very good person and he is well-known in the intelligence circles having been there in intelligence all his life and he is well-groomed in intelligence matters. It is only the outcome of the investigation that will give us a clue regarding what actually happened.

Asked if what he thinks about the government action, was it hasty, he answered: “As decision maker, you take decisions under emergency and you also take decisions under normal circumstances that may require normal bureaucracy. The entrance to the National Assembly was blocked which may have sent wrong signals to the international community and in that circumstance, I do not think it required bureaucratic approach for government to have taken the decision it took. What matters most is the circumstances under which a decision maker takes a particular decision.”

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Tokunbo David
Tokunbo David

Writer and editor.

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